Helsinki festivals scramble for replacements as stars cancel

Weekend and Flow announced new headliners on Friday as Cardi B and Swedish House Mafia pulled out.

Cardi B won't perform in Helsinki next month after all. Image: Ennio Leanza / EPA

Two of Finland's biggest music festivals, Flow and Weekend, hastily added new names to their line-ups on Friday following late cancellations by big-name acts.

Weekend, which starts on Friday at the former Suvilahti power plant, announced in the early morning hours via Instagram the main headliner, electronic all-star trio Swedish House Mafia, would not appear. The group cited vague "production issues".

Later in the morning, the nearly-sold-out festival announced that SHM would be replaced by Alesso, another Swedish electronic act that rose to international stardom in the 2010s.

Late-night cancellation

"Yesterday we started to hear rumours that SHM was cancelling their appearance. We didn't get confirmation until around midnight when the artists forwarded a message about it," says Weekend Festival publicist Tomi Lindblom.

"Fortunately we had begun to prepare a bit so we got Alesso as a replacement very quickly."

The planned SHM gig would have been their first in about five year, so some fans may have bought tickets specifically for that reason.

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Swedish House Mafia Image: Kiko Huesca / EPA

Lindblom apologised on behalf of the festival but said that "if one artist cancels in a multiple-day music festival, tickets are not refunded".

"For some artists it seems all too easy to change plans"

Also on Friday morning, organisers of Flow, to be held at Suvilahti three weeks from now, announced a change at the top of the bill. US rapper Cardi B cancelled her European tour dates due to "scheduling conflicts", so Flow replaced her with another American R&B/hiphop star, Solange.

The younger sister of Beyoncé, Solange was to have appeared at Flow back in 2013 but cancelled.

Flow's artistic director Tuomas Kallio told Yle that the festival received confirmation of Cardi B's cancellation this week. Her European shows would have been between scheduled dates in Canada on 4 August and Mexico on the 16th.

"According to international contract practices, these artists don't face cancellation penalties. And unfortunately for some artists it seems all too easy to change their plans regardless of contracts," Kallio said.

Earlier in July, American rapper Travis Scott cancelled his appearance at Turku's Ruisrock a day in advance. The festival quickly booked another US hip-hop act, Migos, to replace him, but they were unable to make it either due to airline delays.

A year ago Weekend faced a much grimmer situation when a scheduled headliner, Florida rapper XXXTentacion, was murdered two months before the festival. Swedish electronic star Avicii, who also died last year, had headlined the festival in 2015 and 2016.